Hippocerous, Edgar A. McKillop

This whimsical work of art one of the many pieces of folk art on exhibit at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Edgar A. McKillop (1879-1950) was a blacksmith from Balfour, North Carolina who began his art career when a neighbor offered him four black walnut trees in exchange for removing the trees from the neighbor’s property.  McKillop used the wood to create hand carved sculptures as well as practical items such as furniture and kitchen utensils.

The hippocerous is one of his largest works.  Created in the 1920s,  the piece is actually a hand cranked phonograph.  McKillop carved the cabinet from walnut and created a fantastical beast with characteristics of the rhinoceros and the hippopotamus.  It looks like a creature that would have populated the pages of Where the Wild Things Are.

I find it interesting how many folk artists integrated technology into their otherwise rustic art.  In this case, McKillop used the work as a cabinet for a hand cranked phonograph.  The hippocerous doesn’t simply hold the phonograph.  When a record is played, the sound comes from its mouth.  But wait, that’s not all.  As the record plays, the beast’s tongue wags back and forth with the music.  It’s a wonderful and whimsical work of art.

Hippocerus (1)

 

Resting Grizzly, by William Berry

This beautiful sculpture resides at the Denali Visitor Center in Alaska.  Interestingly, the life size bronze was replicated from the original sculpture, which was only 8 inches in length.  The one you see here is 8 feet long.  It’s one of the most photographed works of art in Alaska.

Bill Berry was a California native who, along with his wife Elizabeth, moved to Alaska in the 1950s.  Berry worked with many media, including oils, pastels, murals and of course sculpture.  He also wrote several books, including William D. Berry: 1954-1956 Alaskan Field Sketches and Deneki, An Alaskan Moose, which he wrote and illustrated.

The enlarged sculpture was created by Alaskan sculptor Skip Wallen, with the support of the Berry family, and was installed at the Visitors Center in 2012.

Denali Slumbering Bear

 

12 Bones Smokehouse, Asheville, NC

Asheville, North Carolina is a food lover’s paradise.  My wife and I love visiting this great little city and make a point of visiting restaurants we haven’t yet been to.  There are a few restaurants, however, that we have on our must visit list, no matter how many times we’ve been there.  12 Bones Smokehouse is one of them.

12 Bones came to prominence when then President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama dined at the restaurant not once, but three times on trips to Asheville.  We’ve been there three times as well- once to their Arden location, once to the original riverside restaurant and, most recently, to the new location in the River Arts District.

I loved the Arden location, a converted automobile service station, for its funky feel.  The now-defunct riverside location had a great outside dining area next to the river.  The new location, though, is probably my favorite.

The River Arts District was once a run down industrial area, but it’s been converted into art space for Asheville’s creative community.  More than 200 local artists have studio space here and, with the artists, several restaurants have moved into the district.  One of the things I love about the River Arts District is that the exteriors of many of the buildings are covered with art.  12 Bones is no different.

12 Bones Artwork Detail
12 Bones Smokehouse Entrance

Dining at 12 Bones is a little different from most restaurants.  First, you have to wait in a queue to get into the restaurant; as the group at the counter places their order and moves into the dining room, the next group moves into the restaurant.  Second, by restaurant standards 12 Bones’ hours are unusual.  The restaurant is only open for lunch Monday through Friday (it’s actually open for takeout until 6pm, but the dining room closes at 4).  If you get there late you’re out of luck.

We got there just before the Friday lunch rush, so our wait outside wasn’t long.  We placed our orders and chose to sit outside to enjoy the great weather and the fascinating wall art of the surrounding buildings.  We enjoyed watching an eagle soar high overhead against the beautiful blue sky.

12 Bones River

The food at 12 Bones is great. Ann Marie ordered their award winning blueberry chipotle ribs with potato salad and collards and I had a pulled pork plate with mac and cheese and collards. I tried several of the barbecue sauces- a vinegar based sauce, a mustard based sauce, and an awesome jalapeno sauce.   It’s country cooking, but taken to a whole new level.

 

There are no secret sauces at 12 Bones.  They don’t keep their recipes locked in a safe.  If you’re up to it, you can “try this at home.”  They’ve got a cookbook with recipes for pretty much everything they serve, including their blueberry chipotle sauce.  Ann Marie makes a pretty awesome barbecue, but she’s always looking for new things to try.  The cookbook was one we definitely needed.  I see blueberry chipotle ribs in our future.

If you make it to Asheville, head to 12 Bones River.  You won’t be disappointed.

Praça da Republica, Braga

The Praça da Republica Square is considered by many to be the heart of Braga.  Located at the north end of Avenida da Liberdade, the square was the trading center in sixteenth century Braga.  Today it’s a great place to start your tour of Braga.

The Arcada, as it’s popularly called, is home to two excellent cafes, both over 100 years old, Cafe Vianna and Cafe Astoria.  We chose to have breakfast at Café Vianna.  In operation for over 150 years, the café is supposedly where the 28 May 1926 coup d’etat began.  Portuguese novelists Eça de Queriós and Camilo Castelo Branco are said to have been visitors to the café during its long history.

The view from Cafe Vianna is spectacular.  You look past the Praça da Republica fountain, across Jardim da Avenida Central, all the way to Bom Jesus do Monte, 5 kilometers away.  The cafe is also a great place for people watching; there are always crowds of people passing by.

This view of Praça da Republica was taken from the Jardim da Avenida.  You can see the Braga Tower, the last remnant of the castle, behind the Arcada.

There are so many things to see and do in Braga and it’s nice to have a central point where you can sit and relax while catching your breath and enjoying a drink.  For us, Praça da Republica was that place.

Braga Arcada

Arctic Brotherhood Hall, Skagway, AK

In February 1899, towards the end of the Klondike Gold Rush, eleven men founded the first Arctic Brotherhood in Camp Skagway, one of the starting points into the Klondike.  By the Summer the Arctic Brotherhood Hall had been erected as their meeting place.  The Hall was needed; a month after it was formed the Brotherhood’s membership had swollen to over 300 men.

The Arctic Brotherhood was more than just a drinking club for the men of the Klondike.  Despite initial objections by the churches, the citizens of Skagway soon found that the Brotherhood took care of its sick members, buried their dead and worked to improve the educational and social systems of the mining camps.  The preamble to the Brotherhood’s constitution states:

“The object of this organization shall be to encourage and promote social and intellectual intercourse and benevolence among its members, and to advance the interests of its members and those of the Northwest Section of North America.”

The Arctic Brotherhood proved so popular among the men of the Northwest that 32 camps were eventually established across the North and more than 10,000 men called themselves Arctic Brothers.  They included miners, businessmen, doctors, lawyers, government officials, American Senators, Canadian Members of Parliament and celebrities.  Among its honorary members were King Edward VII and American Presidents Warren G. Harding, Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley.

The Arctic Brotherhood lasted into the 1920s, long after the Klondike Gold Rush had faded into history.  Today, the building is home to the Visitor Information Center, hosted by the Skagway Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The building is one of the most photographed buildings in Alaska.  The facade is covered with over 8,800 pieces of driftwood collected by the Brotherhood’s members and nailed to the facade in a checkerboard pattern.  The letters A and B, the name Camp Skagway No. 1 and the date of its founding, 1899, all made of driftwood, designate the building as the membership hall of the Arctic Brotherhood.  It’s a unique and beautiful piece of American History and one you shouldn’t miss if you visit Skagway.

Arctic Brotherhood

Gyre, NC Art Museum

Gyre is a sculpture by North Carolina artist Thomas Sayre.  The three huge rings were created on site in 1999, using reinforced concrete.  Circular trenches were dug, the reinforcements were placed and the concrete was poured.  Once the concrete was dry and cured, the rings were lifted into place by crane. You can still see the circular depressions where the rings were formed before being raised in place.

Gyre is one of the centerpieces of the NC Art Museum Park.  The sculpture is especially striking when, beginning at sunset, the rings are illuminated by flood lights.  It’s quite a sight.

Gyre 1

University of Coimbra, Portugal

The University of Coimbra is one of the oldest universities in the world.  Once the royal palace, the Velha Universidade, or Old University, is the oldest part of the school and is a beautiful place.  We were able to tour the university, starting with the Joanine Library, and working our way through the buildings.  If you visit Coimbra, the Old University is a required stop on your journey.

This photo is from the wide Paço das Escolas, the main square of the Old University.  On the left is the famous bell tower and straight ahead is the Via Latina, which is the entrance to the part of the University that was the royal palace.  As beautiful as the exterior is, the interior is stunning.  The Joanine Library, the Capela de São Miquel, and the Sala dos Capelos are just three of the many beautiful spaces in the Old University.

University

Ulalu, NC Art Museum

Ulalu is one of two sculptures by abstract artist Mark di Suvero in the North Carolina Art Museum Park.  Di Suvero makes huge works of art using a crane and an arc welder.  Steel H-beams and plates are his material of choice. Di Suvero was the first living artist to have his art shown in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris.

It amazes me how a material like huge steel beams can become such a beautiful work of art.  The sculptures are huge but still are quite beautiful.  Ulalu sits along the road running beside the museum and is a wonderful attraction for the art museum.

Ulalu 2

Charles Bradley Mural, R.A.D., Asheville, NC

The River Arts District in Asheville is a fascinating place.  Until the mid 1980s the area was an industrial area, when Asheville artists began looking for inexpensive studio space and found it in the neglected warehouses along the river.  Today it’s home to over 200 artists.

One of the coolest aspects of the River Arts District is that the buildings have been turned into works of art. Murals and graffiti cover the virtually every surface of the buildings.   Some of the murals are quite beautiful.  One of my favorites is this tribute to the late “screaming eagle of soul”, Charles Bradley.

Bradley found musical success late in his life, with all three of his albums being released when he was in his sixties.  Bradley released three critically acclaimed albums and was a popular performer at festivals.  Unfortunately Bradley succumbed to cancer in 2017 at the age of 68.

This mural, outside the Summit Coffee Company, is a beautiful and fitting portrait of the man.

Charles Bradley

Whaling Wall, Anchorage, AK

In 1981, American artist Robert Wyland set out to paint 100 murals celebrating ocean life.  The first wall, in Laguna Beach, California, was dedicated in August of that year.  Twenty seven years later, Wyland’s 100th wall was dedicated in Beijing China.

Anchorage’s Whaling Wall, officially titled “Alaska’s Marine Life”, was painted by Wyland in 1994 and was his 54th wall in the series.  The huge mural, 400 feet long and 50 feet, high, depicts whales and seals that are native to Alaska.  It’s an impressive work of art and one of Anchorage’s best known landmarks.

Whaling Wall Mural HDR Deep 1